Pre-establishment[ edit ] The Eno and the Occoneechi, related to the Sioux and the Shakori , lived and farmed in the area which became Durham. They may have established a village named Adshusheer on the site. The Great Indian Trading Path has been traced through Durham, and Native Americans helped to mold the area by establishing settlements and commercial transportation routes.
In , Durham's beauty was chronicled by the English explorer John Lawson , who called the area "the flower of the Carolinas. Early settlers built gristmills, such as West Point , and worked the land.
Prior to the American Revolution, frontiersmen in what is now Durham were involved in the Regulator movement.
According to legend, Loyalist militia cut Cornwallis Road through this area in to quell the rebellion. Later, William Johnston, a local shopkeeper and farmer, made Revolutionaries' munitions, served in the Provincial Capital Congress in , and helped underwrite Daniel Boone 's westward explorations.
Large plantations, Hardscrabble, Cameron, and Leigh among them, were established in the antebellum period. By , Stagville Plantation lay at the center of one of the largest plantation holdings in the South. African slaves were brought to labor on these farms and plantations, and slave quarters became the hearth of distinctively Southern cultural traditions involving crafts, social relations, life rituals, music, and dance.
There were free African-Americans in the area as well, including several who fought in the Revolutionary War. It was toppled in Prior to the arrival of the railroad, the area now known as Durham was the eastern part of present-day Orange County and was almost entirely agricultural, with a few businesses catering to travelers particularly livestock drivers along the Hillsborough Road. This road, eventually followed by US Route 70, was the major east-west route in North Carolina from colonial times until the construction of interstate highways.
Steady population growth and an intersection with the road connecting Roxboro and Fayetteville made the area near this site suitable for a US Post Office, which was established in Roxboro, Fayetteville and Hillsborough Roads remain major thoroughfares in Durham, although they no longer exactly follow their early 19th century rights-of-way.
The wood-burning steam locomotives of the time had to stop frequently for wood and water and the new North Carolina Railroad needed a depot between the settled towns of Raleigh and Hillsborough. The residents of what is now downtown Durham thought their businesses catering to livestock drivers had a better future than a new-fangled nonsense like a railroad and refused to sell or lease land for a depot.
Eventually a railway depot was established on land donated by Bartlett S. Sherman occupied the nearby state capital of Raleigh during the American Civil War.
After the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia by Gen. Lee at Appomattox, Virginia on April 9, , Gen. Johnston sought surrender terms, which were negotiated on April 17, 18 and 26 at Bennett Place , the small farm of James and Nancy Bennett, located halfway between the army's lines about 3 miles 4.
While these negotiations prevented a battle in Durham, the wholesale looting of homes and businesses by Union cavalry caused a long-standing bitterness in the region towards the federal government and the Republican Party. As both armies passed through Durham, Hillsborough, and surrounding Piedmont communities, they confiscated the area's Brightleaf Tobacco , which had a milder flavor than other tobacco varieties. Durham's tobacco was far more pleasant to smoke or chew than any tobacco they had ever had and when they returned home and couldn't get anything like it, they started sending letters to Durham to get more.
Early view of first Duke tobacco factory and family home, Durham, Separate "white" and "colored" entrances to a cafe in Durham, North Carolina, The community of Durham Station grew slowly before the Civil War, but expanded rapidly following the war. Much of this growth attributed to the establishment of a thriving tobacco industry.
Veterans returned home after the war, with an interest in acquiring more of the great tobacco they had sampled in North Carolina. Numerous orders were mailed to John Ruffin Green's tobacco company requesting more of the Durham tobacco. Blackwell mistakenly believed was manufactured in Durham , England. Mustard, known as Durham Mustard, was originally produced in Durham , England, by Mrs Clements and later by Ainsley during the eighteenth century.
However, production of the original Durham Mustard has now been passed into the hands of Colman's of Norwich , England. Incorporation[ edit ] As Durham Station's population rapidly increased, the station became a town and was incorporated by act of the North Carolina General Assembly , on April 10, It was named for the man who provided the land on which the station was built, Dr.
The increase in business activity, land transfers etc. Washington Duke was a good businessman, but his sons were brilliant and established what amounted to a monopoly of the smoking and chewing tobacco business in the United States by In the early s, the Federal Government forced a breakup of the Duke's business under the antitrust laws.
The Dukes retained what became known as American Tobacco , a major corporation in its own right, with manufacturing based in Durham. American Tobacco's ubiquitous advertisements on radio shows beginning in the s and television shows up to was the nation's image of Durham until Duke University supplanted it in the late 20th century. Prevented from further investment in the tobacco industry, the Dukes turned to the then new industry of electric power generation, which they had been investing in since the early s.
Duke Power now Duke Energy brought in electricity from hydroelectric dams in the western mountains of North Carolina through the newly invented technology of high voltage power lines. At this time — , the few towns and cities in North Carolina that had electricity depended on local "powerhouses".
These were large, noisy, and smoky coal-fired plants located next to the railroad tracks. Duke Power quickly took over the electricity franchises in these towns and then electrified all the other towns of central and western North Carolina, making even more money than they ever made from tobacco.
Duke Power also had a significant business in local franchises for public transit buses and trolleys before local government took over this responsibility in the mid- to late 20th century.
The success of the tobacco industry in the late 19th and early 20th century encouraged the then-growing textile industry to locate just outside Durham. The early electrification of Durham was also a large incentive. Drawing a labor force from the economic demise of single family farms in the region at the time, these textile mills doubled the population of Durham.
Early advertisements of Tobacco products made in Durham Much of the early city architecture , both commercial and residential, dates from the period of — Durham recorded its worst fire in history on March 23, The multimillion-dollar blaze destroyed a large portion of the downtown business district.
The fire department's water source failed during the blaze, prompting voters to establish a city-owned water system in place of the private systems that had served the city since Shepard founded North Carolina Central University , the nation's first publicly supported liberal arts college for African-Americans.
The college changed its name to Duke University and built a large campus and hospital a mile west of Trinity College the original site of Trinity College is now known as the Duke East Campus. Durham's manufacturing fortunes declined during the midth century. Textile mills began to close during the s. Competition from other tobacco companies as well as a decrease in smoking after the s reduced revenues from Durham's tobacco industry. In a far-sighted move in the late s, Duke University, along with the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University in Raleigh, persuaded the North Carolina Legislature to purchase a large tract of sparsely settled land in southern Durham County and create the nation's first "science park" for industry.
Cheap land and a steady supply of trained workers from the local universities made the Research Triangle Park an enormous success which, along with the expansion resulting from the clinical and scientific advances of Duke Medical Center and Duke University, more than made up for the decline of Durham's tobacco and textile industries.
Multiple sit-ins were held, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Spaulding and James E. Shepard , has been cited nationally for its role in the sit-in movements of the s—60s. The committee also has used its voting strength to pursue social and economic rights for African-Americans and other ethnic groups.
In the late s, Douglas E. Moore , minister of Durham's Asbury Temple Methodist Church, along with other religious and community leaders, pioneered sit-ins throughout North Carolina to protest discrimination at lunch counters that served only whites.
Widely credited as the first sit-in of the Civil Rights Movement , on June 23, , Moore and six others assembled at the church to plan the protest.
When they refused to budge, the manager called the police who charged them with trespassing. Unlike the Greensboro Four , three years later, the Royal Seven were arrested and ultimately found guilty of trespassing. Within days, Martin Luther King Jr. Advocating non-violent confrontation with segregation laws for the first time, King said, "Let us not fear going to jail. If the officials threaten to arrest us for standing up for our rights, we must answer by saying that we are willing and prepared to fill up the jails of the South.
Combined with large-scale demolition using Urban Renewal funds, Durham suffered significant losses to its historic architectural base. In , the St. Joseph's Historical Foundation at the Hayti Heritage Center was incorporated to "preserve the heritage of the old Hayti community, and to promote the understanding of and appreciation for the African American experience and African Americans' contributions to world culture.
Many famous people have performed there including B. King and Willie Nelson. After the departure of the tobacco industry, large-scale renovations of the historic factories into offices, condominiums, and restaurants began to reshape downtown.
These centers are connected by the Durham Freeway NC Additionally, many of the historic tobacco buildings elsewhere in the city have been converted into loft-style apartment complexes. The downtown corridor along West Main St. In , 21c Museum Hotels announced plans to fully renovate the Hill Building. The renovations will add a contemporary art museum and upscale restaurant to the historic building.
Additionally, a boutique hotel will also be built in this major renovation effort in downtown Durham. Skansa Construction is responsible for managing this project.
Construction has already started, and the building will be at the corner of Main St and Corcoran St. It will be directly across from Durham's current tallest building, but once completed, will be the new tallest building in downtown Durham and the 4th largest building in the Triangle. Originally scheduled for a opening, the building now is expected to open in May The city has a total area of The Eno River , a tributary of the Neuse River , passes through the northern part of Durham, along with several other small creeks.
The center of Durham is on a ridge that forms the divide between the Neuse River watershed, flowing east to Pamlico Sound , and the Cape Fear River watershed, flowing south to the Atlantic near Wilmington.